Photography, plums and a pie

During the month of September I took part in an evening class on photography. The class was mainly geared to those interested in portrait photography, but I thought I might be able to pick up a few tips here and there, in particular with regards to lighting, as the daylight hours begin to dwindle here in these northern parts. I was the black sheep in the class, being the only one with an interest in food photography. However there were quite a few other participants with specialised areas of interest and our tutor was great at giving us all individual advice.

As part of the course we had to complete a small photography project. Mine was to take a series of 5 photographs that together told a story. I’d been recommended to try and emulate the style of a favourite photographer for this assigment. I love the photos by Aran Goyoaga of Canelle et Vanille fame and used her work as inspiration in some of the below shots. (I hope they don’t seem too much like a cheap copy of a Gucci handbag).

This project was nicely timed with plum season being upon us, so I decided to grab that fruit and run with it. Enjoy!

Plum Bakewell Tart

a knob of butter
1kg plums
100g vanilla sugar
¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cornflour, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
50g almonds, blanched and sliced (or use the flaked ones you can buy)
icing sugar

For the frangipane
285g blanched whole almonds
50g plain flour
1 vanilla pod
250g unsalted butter, cubed
250g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the shortcrust pastry
500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
250g cold butter, cut into cubes
zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
a splash of milk
flour for dusting

Grease a tart tin or dish with the butter and make the pastry. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar until you have a fine, crumbly mixture. Mix in the lemon zest. Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and work it together until you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put into the fridge to rest for about half an hour.When you have your ball of dough, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to rest for about half an hour.  Once the pastry has rested,  remove it from the frdige and roll it out onto a floured surface. Line the tart dish with the rolled out pastry, pressing it gently into place. Put it in the freezer for an hour.

Meanwhile, make the frangipane. Blitz the blanched whole almonds (to blanche the almonds yourself leave the almonds in a bowl of hot water for 15-20 minutes and then peel the skins off) in a food processor until you have a fine powder and transfer this to a bowl with the flour. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds, using the back of a knife. (Mix the seeds with a little sugar to separate them if need be). Now blitz the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until light and creamy. Put the almond mixture back into the food processor with the lightly beaten eggs and whiz until completely mixed and smooth. Place in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour.

Heat the oven to 180° C/350° F and bake the pastry case for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on.

Halve the plums and remove the stones. Finely chop half of them and place in a saucepan with the vanilla sugar and the spices. Cook gently until softened and the consistency is jam-like. Then stir in the cornflour and simmer until thickened.

While the plums are cooking, cut the remaining plums halves into quarters, sprinkle them with icing sugar and leave for 5 minutes – this will make them juicy and shiny. Spoon the warm plum jam into the pastry case, reserving a little for serving, and smooth it out across the bottom. Spread the frangipane over the plum jam. Arrange the plums on the surface of the frangipane, pressing them in lightly. Scatter the sliced/flaked almonds over the top. Bake the tart in the oven for about an hour. It’s a good idea to place the tart dish on a piece of baking parchment as it has a tendency to bubble over – at least mine did! Once cooked through and golden on top, remove the tart from the oven and leave it to cool.

Before serving sieve some icing sugar over the top of the tart. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche and some of the leftover jam.

Inspired by a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie at Home’

If you end up with too much pastry you could make these little jammy tarts – they are simply a round of pastry with a blob of the plum jam and half a plum on top


  1. Posted October 20, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hvor er dine billeder bare flotte!
    Tærten ser SÅ lækker ud, den er printet ud til senere brug :-)

    Mange hilsner

  2. Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    You have some really clear and sharp photos! I like that! what equipment are you using?

    best regard!

    • Posted October 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Søren. I’m using a Canon EOS 350D with a macro lens. Nice you visited my blog :)

    • Posted October 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh and the lighting is just daylight.

  3. Posted October 22, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    I LOVE the photos Kerry. Keep up the good work. What a great idea with a photography class. Might just do the same here in Dublin :)

  4. bergholt2008
    Posted October 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Imponerende, hvad du får ud af udstyret! Jeg synes virkelig, at billederne indfanger appetitlighed — på højeste niveau! — og tangerer pro-niveau!

    Osse mig på kursus vil!


  5. Posted October 23, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    get soooo hungry – Great photoes and recipies

  6. Posted October 23, 2010 at 7:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    Shared a followed forward with you from CheekySpouse. Really love your photos of the plums. Any top tips from your photography class? I always get criticised for low lighting and under exposure even when i photograph outside in daylight!

    • Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Victoria, I’m not sure really about the tips. I was hoping that it would help with the indoor photography, but I still prefer to take my photos outdoors like I was doing before the course. I think I just need to take the time experiment more indoors though.

      Regarding exposure we were advised to go for under exposure as opposed to over exposure because you can always manipulate the former afterwards. If your photo is over exposed you have less leeway to enhance it afterwards.

      Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  7. Donna
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    Oooooh……I might try that recipe when I am back ‘home’ in Spain Kerry…looks lovely!!! Fabulous photography as always…I bet you coulda gave the class a few tips of your own! xxx

    • Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Donna, it was a bit of a project that one! Would love to come down and do some cooking in your part of the world – much better light for off-season food photography too. Hope you’re happy to be home. xox

  8. Posted October 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a looker, Kerry!

  9. lina
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    Ok as one of the official testers, I must say that the pictures are not only good, the food is amazing!
    I like it with yogourt instead of cream as it it a bit lighter and I would of put more almonds cause I like the nutty taste of it. It’s definitely a dessert to share with neighbors :)


  10. Posted October 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m always impressed by your food photography – beautiful shots! :)

  11. Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This sounds too good! Your photos and description are done beautifully – really enjoy your blog.

    • Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Stephanie! I just checked out Confectionary Designs – pretty amazing too :)

  12. Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    They don’t look like a cheap copy at all, they’re lovely! I especially like the styling in the one with the yellow flowered tablecloth. I guess being where you are, you’re spoilt for choice in the design department.

  13. Posted November 4, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fedt at du er kommet i feature på FoodPress!!

  14. janemaynard
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hello! just wanted to let you know you that your top photo in this post is the “Favorite Food Photo” on the homepage today! You did a lovely job with all the photos…have confidence, good work! :) Anyway, just wanted you to see the feature. Have a great day!

    Jane (FoodPress Editor)

    • Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks – I was so excited to see that! Thanks too for the encouraging feedback :)

  15. bergholt2008
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Åh ja! Blæret! :)

  16. ethneconnor
    Posted November 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really impressed with your “Plum Story”.

  17. Posted November 8, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent food photography, its so good I can smell baked goodies form here.


  18. Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Kerry, very nice job. Good job taking what you learn from portrait photography and applying to food photography. I joke that food is easier to photograph because it doesn’t talk back. :)

    • Posted November 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Kyle,

      Wow, I think you’re the first food photographer to comment on my blog! Your photos are great – very unique. Any tips you might have for me would be most welcome :)

      Thanks for visiting,

      • Posted November 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        I wish I had some sage advice for you but your food photography is already very nice. My best advice is to keep doing what you’re doing and keep exploring. And if that doesn’t work, always put the light source behind your subject. :)

      • Posted November 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Kyle. That is very sage advice actually. I have a few posts/photos in the pipeline where I think I should have used some backlighting. Must start experimenting with that :)

  19. Malin
    Posted November 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Mmm, det hele ser riktigt lækkert ud! Både billeder og kage – nam! :)

  20. Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Kerry! Before reading your text, I browsed through the pictures and thought to myself “now this looks awfully familiar” and as I am a regular visitor at Cannelle et Vanille you can probably gather where I’m getting at. Well done! Great compositions and colour/pattern combinations there – Aran couldn’t have done it much better herself!

  21. Posted November 18, 2010 at 6:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    Ich will das! Jetzt! Sofort! ;-)

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